The poor state of mental health system in India

  • Jan 09 , 2017

Today if someone walks up to you and says that the mental health system in India is in tatters, don’t be shocked- it is the truth. Just one in five Indians suffering from mental health issues is able to receive treatment. NIMHANS Bangalore has said that only 30 million of the total 150 million people with mental problems are treated. This survey by the hospital states that while one in 40 has dealt with this issue earlier, one in 20 is plagued by depression.

The prevalence of depression across the Indian population is 5 per cent, and going by the total population at present, that really is a huge number. Many cases are undiagnosed and so people are forced to suffer in silence. Major factors such as unemployment, poverty, stress and lack of social security further compound the problem. These are accelerated by problems like lack of awareness, traditional and baseless beliefs. When such problems are linked to the stigma attached to a mental illness such as depression, it becomes a deadly concoction.

How is mental illness different from others? 

When someone is affected by mental illness, it affects his or her social life, general health and personal life. It is not restricted only to him or her, but affects those around as well, such as family members. As per an estimate, people with mental illnesses general die 10-12 years before others. It is here that the role of the family and social community is vital.

The family and close friends should not keep looking down on the patient because of his mental problem. Instead, they should treat him or her just as a normal person, but at the same time be aware of the delicate condition. Many times, mental illnesses raise several doubts in the mind, especially in relation to self-confidence. All such issues must be handled with care, and the patient should be able to get his or her confidence back over a period of time.

What to keep a check on it?

First of all, family and close friends must be watchful enough to detect that a mental problem is at large. They should locate a suitable hospital and find an appropriate doctor when problems happen. It is said that the common mental disorders also lead to other problems such as substance abuse. Usage of substances includes high alcohol consumption, moderate to high use of tobacco, and drugs, both illicit and prescribed.

  • Do not take an undue amount of stress at your workplace. If the boss is being extra pushy, learn to say no and put your foot down at times.
  • Do not be on the phone or messengers all the time. Spend some time with yourself or with family members as well.
  • Be competitive, but try not to think too much about it.
  • Spend time out in the open, meeting people, walking and generally roaming around, instead of being confined to your room
  • If you feel a mental problem, do not hesitate to tell others. Do not keep it inside yourself for fear of being ostracised by others. Remember, the mental pain will me much more if it goes undetected.